One of the reasons I like making earrings is the oh-so-quick results. Well, “quick” compared to the hours and sometimes days it often takes me to design and finish a necklace.

I’ve been working on some bigger pieces lately, hit a bump in the process, so decided earrings would ease the frustration.

Photographing jewelry is an art. Great photographs can sell the work even though the buyer has never seen the real piece.

I’ve taken a lot of blah shots so taking better photos is one of my goals.

One aspect I’ve begun paying more attention to is the background. Too often I choose whatever is handy or what I’ve used in the past. But not all pieces work well with the same backdrop.

Here’s an example. The earrings in these photos are identical, only the background has changed. Which do you prefer?


On wood

On seashell












The lefthand photo isn’t bad but it’s too cool and monochromatic for my taste. It looks posed. If the earrings don’t look natural in the photo, would someone still buy them?

In the righthand photo the wood adds warmth and colour. It also creates a casual feel, saying these are something you could wear to the farmers’ market, a rodeo or a get-together with pals.

Since we don’t always meet our buyers face to face, photos must do much of the selling for us. I’m aiming to take better pictures in the future. :-)

This Saturday I’ll be at the Arts Festival in Airdrie, AB from 11 to 5 pm. This annual event is a fundraiser for the Airdrie Food Bank, and a good cause in support of ending hunger.

Each artist appearing in the show has donated a piece of work for the silent auction. This is the necklace I’ve submitted.

Made of Swarovski crystals and Japanese seed beads


This three dimensional piece features blue zircon Swarovski crystals and Japanese seed beads, and closes with a vintage button clasp.

You’ll find more about the Arts festival here.


I found these beautiful glass beads in southern Arizona. Depending on how the light hits them, they display various shades of blue and green. I planned to combine all three pieces in the necklace but after trying several designs the large heart seemed to work best on its own. Mi Corazon Hearts

Copper HeartIt’s that time again! The Airdrie Food Bank is celebrating its 8th annual Empty Bowls Arts Festival.

This community-wide event began in 2007 and has grown in popularity each year. The week-long activities culminate on Saturday June 21 with the Arts Festival from 11 to 5, rain or shine. It all happens at Nose Creek Park.

You’ll be able to buy local art, meet the artists, watch demonstrations, listen to music and bid on an array of art in the silent auction. You’ll also be able to enjoy a free soup lunch. Bowls are available for a suggested donation of $20.

I’m one of the artists taking part in this fun, family-oriented event and will be donating one of my pieces to the silent auction to help raise funds for the Food Bank. Join us if you can. :-)

Well, I’m back in the saddle again. Okay, maybe not a real saddle, but I am kicking off the 2014 show season — beginning tomorrow with the annual Art Show at Water Valley, Alberta.

And true to form, there’s probably gonna be some snow — after all, it is spring in Alberta. But we’re indoors, there’s hearty hot soup and scrumptious homemade pies. Hope you can join us. :-)

Check for more information at the Chinook Creative Arts Foundation.


Water Valley Art Sale

Old jewelry often finds its way into thrift stores and yard sales. It’s like a small tarnished treasure, waiting to be rediscovered. I made each of these from left-behinds — pieces that no one was interested in anymore.

I love the hunt! You have to look beyond the missing pearl, the broken clasp, the twisted chain and ask yourself What if …?

I’ve found some beautiful necklace clasps that outshine (no pun intended) many of the versions available today. Even covered in grime the workmanship is evident. A little gentle Ivory dishwashing soap, some warm water and voila! Its beauty is suddenly apparent.

I lucked out at a recent yard sale — I picked up nearly 20 pieces of lovely work for next to nothing but my time. Gonna have fun working with these! ;-)

Thin-film physics, anyone? I never thought I’d write about that but — as it turns out — that’s apparently what gives dichroic glass its fascinating properties of light and colour.

Last winter I bought several pieces of dichroic glass from the husband of a beading friend. It was hard choosing only a few from so many beautiful ones. I planned to use them as cabochons in beaded necklaces.

But none of my ideas seemed to work. This week I finally realized they would look their best as stand-alone pieces, without the distraction of intricate beadwork.

Dichroic glass is beautiful and these handmade pieces are truly one of a kind. As you turn each piece light catches it at different angles and the colours seem to change as if by magic. It makes for an eye-catching piece of jewelry.

The most famous piece of ancient dichroic glass is the Lycurgus cup, a rare 4th century Roman cage cup. It changes from red to green depending on whether light is shining on it from the front (the cup appears green) or from behind (the cup appears red).

Today’s dichroic glass is made using a different technique. According to Trezora Glass:

Dichroic glass does not use paints, dyes, gels or any standard coloring agents to create color anymore than a prism does. The fantastic colors are created through the manipulation of light. The multi-colored effect is the result of complex light interactions called “thin film physics”. Thin-film physics are also responsible for rainbow patterns in a soap bubble, the swirling colors of an oil slick floating on a puddle and the dramatic reflections in dragonfly wings. 

Ain’t it grand when science and art collide. ;-)


A trip to a thrift store is like a treasure hunt. I never know what I’m going to find. Which makes it even more fun.

I was out at the Coast last week and spent several happy hours browsing through leftovers, give-aways and no longer wanted items.

At one store I found these Alaska Black Diamond earrings. Like the Ugly Duckling they didn’t look very appealing. They were long and heavy and clunky.

Ah, but that’s the challenge — could I design something more appealing? Sometimes I buy old jewelry just for the components. This time I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the focal beads.

AfterI brought the earrings home and carefully took them apart. Then I washed and dried everything.

The beads were strung on wire in the original design — I chose a balled head pin instead. The bugle beads added clutter so I set them aside. I topped each “vase” with the original round bead.

The French ear wires added additional length to the original design, making it even more awkward. I opted for post-and-ball findings, to echo the round bead and smooth curves of the focals.

I’m pleased with how they turned out — it’s definitely a case where less is more. ;-)

Airdrie’s ARTember kicked off last Friday with the 3rd annual Art Show & Sale in the large showroom at Cam Clark Ford.

Nearly 30 artists had work for sale — painting, photography, wood turning, jewelry, bronze sculpture, wood carving and more. All the artists are members of ARTS (Airdrie Regional ARTS Society).

Here are a few who caught my eye.

Darryl Bernsten has been taking photographs for a long time but only recently begun to show his work professionally. His photo titled “Wheat” shows amazing detail.

Darryle Bernsten

John Smythe is a wood turner. His turned and decorated “Butterfly” vase won first place in the Woodturning Section of the 2013 Calgary Stampede Western Showcase. The judges also awarded it “Best of Show” for all woodworking entries.

John Smythe

Rick Berg has been painting for about 25 years and is best known for his wildlife and landscape work, like this piece titled “Mt. Assiniboine”.

Rick Berg

Ken Vicketts is a wood carver. This pair of gannets won Best of Show in the Wildlife category at the Pacific Brant Carving and Art Show.

Ken Vicketts

Diane M. Anderson has been working in bronze for about 35 years. This piece, titled “Quittin’ Time”, was bought by a collector at the show.

Diane M. Anderson

All in all, it was a great event. ;-)

Folklorico ERsI had time on my hands and beads in the tray so … stitched a pair of earrings to match the Folklorico necklace I made earlier this summer.

The brick stitch worked up quickly — the first round is done on the inside of the hoop. The 3-bead picot is then added to the outside.

I like to work with one length of thread. Twenty-four inches was a good length on these 3/4 inch hoops.

A pretty design and one I’m going to use again. ;-)

Our resident robins raised two broods this summer, amid long months of soggy weather. The last batch of young are fledged and on their own now.

I started this necklace about the time Ma Robin was brooding her first clutch. I finally finished it today. She’s obviously a faster worker. Mind you I did a lot between times — I just couldn’t figure out how I wanted to finish it.

The main holdup was the clasp. I knew what I wanted to do but I kept putting it off. I tried some of my own variations but they didn’t work. So I googled “wire wrapped cord” and came up with a site that had just what I needed — a tutorial!

Handmade clasp

Many thanks to Erin & Eric at Lytha Studios for posting this technique. ;-)

Airdrie is doing it again. Beginning September 13 the city is hosting 2 weeks of arts and culture to celebrate Alberta’s creative spirit, turning September into ARTember.

Part of the celebration is a wonderful art show and sale taking place September 13 and 14 in the showroom at Cam Clark Ford in Airdrie. This is the third year for this event and each year it gets better.

Artember Poster

You can check out some of the artists who will be appearing there (including me ;-) ) on Facebook.

“I want those earrings.”

“Pardon me?” I said.

“Those ones, the ones you’re wearing.”

At first I thought he was joking but the man standing in my booth at the show this past weekend was serious. He and his adult son had looked at all the earrings on my table and then his eyes settled on the ones I was wearing.

“Did you make those?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. “They’re my favourite pair.”

“Well they’re the ones I want.”  He was buying a present for a woman in his life and those were the earrings he wanted.

“Sorry,” I replied. “They’re not for sale.”

He looked around again. “Well, what if I bought these as well?” He picked out a pair. “Sorry,” I said for the second time. “Not for sale.”

He continued looking. “I’d also like to buy these too.” He added a second pair to his purchase. He said it all with an easy manner and a big smile on his face.

How could I say no? “Okay!” I laughed at his persistence. I brought out my pliers, removed the clips from the earrings and put on new hooks. I wrapped each pair, he paid me and the deal was done.

He and his son walked away with 3 pairs of earrings and I made a sale I won’t soon forget.

The earrings really were my favourite. Luckily I can make another set. While I’m at it maybe I’ll make 2 pairs. Who knows? Maybe someone at my next show will want to buy them right off my ears. ;-)

Stone LilacThere’s a great outdoor Art Show & Sale coming up on August 24 & 25 in Sundre AB. The show runs from 10 to 5 both days and features several local artists.

There will be an interesting mix of art including pottery, paintings, woodwork and jewelry.

Organizer David Todd is hosting the show on the front lawn of his business, Otter Rafting Adventures. During the summer David runs successful white water rafting trips on the Red Deer River. During the winter — and in his spare hours other times — he runs Otter Pottery.

The annual Sundre Pro Rodeo — which was postponed because of the flooding in June — is also running this weekend.

It’s going to be lots of fun — hope you can join us!

Click here for a map. ;-)

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